Apple’s GarageBand for iOS got a pretty serious update early in 2017, with version 2.2 adding the Alchemy synth to its roster of instruments. Now comes version 2.3, which brings yet more power to the mobile DAW.
Firstly, it is of course optimised for the taller/wider iPhone X screen, and there’s also a new Sound Library. Recognising the fact that the ever-expanding collection of preset sounds and Apple Loops is both an increased burden to browse and audition and an impossibility to install on your 16GB iPhone, this enables you to audition sounds via a preset audio clip before choosing which to download.
Users can now be much more selective as to the genres of sounds they want, so you may choose to ditch those orchestral swells in favour of the new Synth, Drum, Reggaeton or Bass-based packs.
High fidelity fans will be pleased to learn that GarageBand for iOS is now 24-bit, from recording through to exporting.
There's also the new Beat Sequencer instrument, a simple step sequencer-based drum programmer that’s ideal for making electronic beats. This sits alongside new Chinese and Japanese instruments - after last year's Erhu and Pipa come the Japanese Taiko Drums and Koto and the Chinese variant, the Guzheng. What’s more, these Asian favourites can be played in Western scales, making them potentially interesting additions to anyone's music.
There are three new Drummers, too - virtual personalities who will magically play along with your tunes (controlled by some easy-to-use sliders that rein-in or accentuate their exuberance) and specialise in playing different instruments and styles. These focus on percussion, with Pop, Songwriter and Latin players included.
Finally - and of real appeal to the serious iOS musicians out there - there are further enhancements to the Audio Unit Extensions protocol, allowing your Audio Unit plugins to appear alongside the standard GB instrument line-up. Compatible iOS synths are instantly selectable - all that's needed is a bit of coding on the part of the developer, and the designing of a simplified GB-friendly interface (though every AU Extension can be popped-out to full size, all within GarageBand).
Moog's Model 15 iOS app is the first to offer this feature, but expect more of your iOS favourites to follow suit.
GarageBand 2.3 for iOS is free, and available to download from the Apple App Store now.